The treadmill had been ordered on November 29. It was to be a Christmas gift to my husband and myself from his parents. It wasn’t exactly my choice of gifts. I would have preferred a pile of new clothes, some perfume and a new purse. But my husband was set on it; he wanted a treadmill, and the only way it could be a Christmas gift was if it were a shared Christmas gift.
The perks of having our own treadmill included that I would be able to get the weight bearing exercise that my body needed, even if it was winter and there was two feet of snow on the ground. The other perk was that my husband wouldn’t be going to the neighbors all the time to use their treadmill, which made a 20 minute run into a 45 minute outing and visit. So I finally gave in, and I’ll admit, with some resentment at things always having to go his way.
Christmas came and went and no treadmill arrived. My in-laws had ordered it from a discount marketing club, and problem after problem seemed to occur. I was beginning to question whether or not we would ever see that treadmill. But in the third week of February, my mother-in-law called and said that we could pick up our treadmill; it was in!
During the three month wait for the treadmill to arrive, my husband and I had decided where we were going to put it. He had originally suggested we put it in the basement workout room with his weights and weight machine, but I preferred it upstairs where I could walk in solitude and not risk wanting to exercise while he and his workout partner were present.
When my son and my husband arrived home with the treadmill, after driving an hour there and an hour back and through snowy highways and streets, it seemed they had discussed the location we had agreed upon and decided it wasn’t the right place. Together they had agreed that the treadmill should go in the basement. I was greeted with their mutual decision, and found myself in the position of the opposed and outnumbered.
It was usually my way to just go with what they wanted, maybe argue my side for a moment, but to cave or give in just to keep peace – or more honestly, so that I wouldn’t have to stand my ground or have a voice. I felt the anxiety rising up in me. I heard the usual critical voice of undeserving and hopelessness that says that I don’t have a voice and that it isn’t even worth it to try. I knew that if I stood my ground I would pay – forever. Somehow and some way my decision would be proven wrong, and I would hear about it for the rest of my days. Knowing this made it even harder to say, “No, I don’t want it in the basement!”
But I did it. I said it. And I said it again and again. My husband grew frustrated at not getting his way. Could I blame him, though? I had been the one that trained him to think he could have his way any time he wanted it – that my opinion didn’t really matter. I was the queen of saying, “Whatever you want.”
My son’s only concern was that he didn’t want the treadmill in the family room, as previously planned, because he wanted to reserve that room for when his friends came over. And I wanted him to have friends over, to have a social life, and I knew that he had a valid point. Not only would it be in their way, but when he and his friends were hanging out in the family room, I wouldn’t be able to exercise.
I felt the frustration and ensuing desperation building. Then I suggested that we use the spare bedroom, my oldest son’s room. He had moved out, and his room was now being used as my sewing room. There was a TV and it was bright and spacious. My husband agreed, but begrudgingly, and let me know that he still thought his idea was better. He grumbled all the way down the hall, as he and my youngest son carried the treadmill back to finish the assembly. And as he grumbled, the guilt inside at having to have my way built. The critical voice inside me, the voice of doubt, chimed in, “You know you’re going to regret this. He’ll get it all set up and find out his head hits the ceiling when he runs or something, and he’ll gripe and bitch while he takes it apart to move it, and it will be all your fault. He’s never going to let you live it down that this isn’t the “perfect” place for it.” And at one point, I almost gave in, but then quickly said aloud, “You know, sometimes I’d like to have something my way.”
Silence filled the room. I walked out and began busying myself with folding laundry. And the critical voice inside started to knock at my mind’s door once more. But this time, I stopped and dead-bolted the door. I realized that I HAD gotten my way, why did I have to make myself pay for it? I should just enjoy the fact that I had spoken up, stood my ground and believed in me. There was no need to berate myself for it. And truthfully, in all the times I had sacrificed so my husband could have his way, did he ever spend time feeling guilty? No, he just went about his way and enjoyed the benefits. It was time for me to do that, too.
Feeling triumphant, not for winning the argument, but for winning the fight with my inner critic, I am now enjoying where I had insisted on putting the treadmill. My son and I subsequently got busy and rearranged spare furniture, movies, the VCR and cleaned – and just in time. For that evening, as my youngest son sat at the computer, two of his friends asked through instant messenger if they could come over and hang out. They ended up spending the night, and even crashed here, each using a piece of furniture, that we had moved to the family room that day, as a bed. The recliner and bean bag chair that we moved to the family room that day were the perfect additions to that room – for playing video games and then collapsing in the wee hours of the morning.
My husband hasn’t griped or pointed out flaws in the location of the treadmill. Everyone seems to be happy with the way it turned out. It seems my clarity on the situation leaves no room for criticism. Not from them – or me!